Anxiety in the Age of Prosperity

Anxiety in the Age of Prosperity: Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes, observes there’s a disconnect between the statistics one associates with a good economy (i.e., what we have currently) and why Americans are so negative about the economy. (Sidenote: Even small business owners are losing confidence.) He speculates it could be Bush’s dismal approval ratings or the uncivil tone of political debate or the way media cover business (heavy focus on problems, less so on entrepreneurial success stories.) His theory why Americans feel bad, even in a good economy: “It’s all about the pace of change. Which is accelerating.”

My theory: I’m sure the pace of change and uncivility and misguided media coverage and bad Bush polling numbers have something to do with it, but I believe anxiety is baked into our DNA. Our ancestors were the anxious ones who were the first to flee when they heard rumors that a saber-tooth tiger was moving into town. Something about that anxiety gene makes lots of us invent crises to worry about if we don’t have real ones.

Related theory: Our ancestors also were the ones who dealt with their anxiety by spending long hours gossiping with each another about famous good-looking cave-people. For some reason, I developed this theory in Jr. High.

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